Jan 15, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇬🇧 Good Tuesday morning. It’s Brexit decision day.

Situational awareness: "Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King was removed from his House committees [last night] in the wake of comments he made last week about white nationalism and white supremacy." (Des Moines Register)

1 big thing ... 2020 vision: Women rule
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Out of the gate, Democratic women are swarming the 2020 presidential race — outnumbering and outmaneuvering men with early announcements.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren started the trend, followed by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
  • In coming days, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will continue the trend. Sen. Kamala Harris of California will soon after cement the trend.
  • Both are hiring staff and have launch strategies.
  • And by the way, we hear Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota may speed up her plans because of all the coming action.

Why it matters ... This could be the month that Democrats truly become the party of women: Speaker Pelosi runs the House, AOC rules social media, and women are shaping the early days of the presidential race.

  • Three of the top four Democrats with the top engagements on Twitter (retweets and likes) from Dec. 11 to Jan 11 were AOC, Harris and Pelosi. (See the data.)

Axios' Alexi McCammond points out that as Democrats game out what type of candidate will be the most effective Trump slayer, a female challenger would paint a clear, stark contrast.

  • Last year's midterms rewarded women with clear, competent, confident and fearless visions for the future, who talked about a way forward that was more functional than they had been witnessing as private citizens.
  • As women abandon the Republican Party and President Trump continues to rely on his base of voters, that leaves a swath of women voters up for grabs. 
  • Being a woman doesn’t automatically make you electable. But in the Trump era, progressives are likely to reward women who dare to be outspoken.

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2. What's really happening at the border?

An aerial view of X-shaped steel beams that mark the border between Mexico and Columbus, N.M. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Three data points from a massive graphic that takes up half (columns 2-4) of today's N.Y. Times front page (by graphics editors Joe Ward and Anjali Singhvi):

  • "Illegal Immigration Is Near a 50-Year Low … In 2017, arrests for illegally crossing the border were at their lowest point since 1971. Undetected illegal border crossings have dropped at an even faster rate, according to estimates by the Department of Homeland Security."
  • "But Families Are Coming in Record Numbers ... A record number of families have tried to cross the border in recent months, overwhelming officials at the border and creating a new kind of humanitarian crisis."
  • "Studies Have Found No Link Between Immigration and Crime ... The Cato Institute, a libertarian research center, analyzed ... Texas data for 2015 and found that the rate of crime among undocumented immigrants was generally lower than among native-born Americans."

Go deeper.

3. Growing push for Bernie to sit out 2020

Supporters rally after Bernie Sanders spoke in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2016. (Ringo Chiu/AFP/Getty Images)

"Has the fire Berned out?" the Boston Globe's Michael Levenson asks on the front page:

  • "[A]s Sanders weighs another campaign, some say that even as he has moved the Democratic Party ideologically — pushing issues such as Medicare for all, free college tuition, and a $15 minimum wage into the mainstream — the party has moved past him personally."
  • "I don’t see a lot of lasting energy for Bernie,” said Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos. "It’s different from last time when he was the alternative to an unfortunately flawed front-runner ... Right now, the mantle of 'progressive' can be carried by any number of candidates."

Another huge factor in calls for Sanders to stand down: N.Y. Times and Politico reports from women who say they faced sexual harassment and sexism in Sanders' 2016 campaign.

  • "Sanders has apologized twice, calling the mistreatment 'absolutely unacceptable.'"
  • Tomorrow, "he plans to meet with the former staffers to address their concerns."

Sanders is "accelerating his efforts to contain the damage from reports of sexism and harassment during his 2016 presidential campaign," per The Times.

  • And The Globe says "supporters ... are hosting house parties and signing petitions."

What we're hearing ... A well-known Democratic operative tells me: "I think it’s nuts Bernie is running. It will be terrible for his reputation and could do serious damage to his politics in VT but sounds like he’s pushing forward."

Bonus: Pic du jour
Evan Vucci/AP

Snow is kicked up by the prop wash as Marine One lifts President Trump off the South Lawn of the White House yesterday.

4. Sad stat

"For the first time, Americans' odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are higher than from a motor vehicle crash." (USA Today)

5. Shutdown, Day 25: TSA absences soar
Drudge Report

"The number of airport security screeners failing to show up for work around the country is soaring as the partial government shutdown goes into its fourth week," AP reports.

  • No-shows jumped Sunday and again yesterday, when TSA reported an absence rate of 7.6% compared with 3.2% on a comparable day a year ago.

Quote du jour ... President Trump, to the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in New Orleans: "When it comes to keeping the American people safe, I will never, ever back down."

Mood music: L.A. Times front-page story from the Farm Bureau convention, "Farmers’ faith in Trump is slipping."

  • "Trade war and the government shutdown hurt their bottom line."
6. Wages unleashed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American workers — after 35 years of essentially flat wages — are finally clawing back real added income, Axios future editor Steve LeVine writes.

  • Last year, wages grew by 3.2%, the biggest increase since 2009 and a full 1.2% higher than inflation, the Bureau of Labor Statistic reported Friday. Inflation was just 1.9% for the year.
  • Normally, the next thing would be for the Fed to raise interest rates a tick to stave off inflation. But, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports that Fed chairman Jerome Powell appears likely to keep interest rates flat this year.

Jason Furman, a former chief economic adviser to President Obama and now a Harvard professor, says that, to achieve sustained real wage growth, productivity will have to grow much faster:

  • Over the last decade, productivity has risen less than 1% a year, lower than the 3% average in the 1950s, but no one has figured out why.

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7. EPA criminal action against polluters hits 30-year low

The EPA hit a 30-year low last year in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution, Justice Department data show.

  • The 166 cases referred for prosecution in the last fiscal year is the lowest number since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president, per AP.
  • The data was obtained by the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
8. Antarctica melting 6 times faster than in '80s
The western edge of iceberg A68, as seen in 2017 (NASA/Nathan Kurtz)

Antarctica is shedding ice at an increasingly rapid rate, potentially imperiling coastlines around the world as sea levels increase in response, Axios science editor Andrew Freedman writes.

  • Why it matters: Antarctica is already contributing a growing amount to sea level rise, and things could get much worse.
  • What's new: A study, published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that East Antarctica has been losing mass since the 1980s.
  • The study, from glaciologists at the University of California at Irvine and Netherlands' Utrecht University, used NASA aircraft reconnaissance and satellite measurements.
9. Facebook commits $300 million to local news
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook is granting $300 million to news programs, partnerships and content over the next three years, a similar amount to a commitment from the Google News Initiative last year, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Facebook says the project is meant to support local journalists and newsrooms in the immediate future and help them build sustainable long-term business models, on and off its platform.
  • Roughly one-third of the money has already been allocated to local news non-profits and programs, as well as Facebook's own local news initiatives.
  • Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown: "I strongly believe that because smaller publishers don't have the same resources as larger ones, this is really where we can have the most impact."

Why it matters ... The relationship between the news industry and Facebook has been rocky: Tech firms sap publishers' ad revenue. And Facebook algorithm changes dramatically affect how newsrooms get web traffic.

10. 1 food thing
Susan Walsh/AP

The scent of Quarter Pounders, fries and Domino's pizza wafted through the White House yesterday as President Trump saluted the Clemson Tigers for winning the college football championship, AP's Laurie Kellman reports:

  • "Silver trays held stacks of wrapped burgers from Wendy's. Also on offer were boxed burgers from McDonald's, including Big Macs."
  • "White House cups bearing the presidential seal held the fries. ... Silver bowls held the condiments."

Trump said he paid for the meal himself because much of the staff in the White House residence has been furloughed.

  • "We ordered American fast food, paid for by me. Lots of hamburgers, lots of pizza," Trump said after returning to the White House from New Orleans.
  • "We have some very large people that like eating, so I think we're going to have a little fun."
Susan Walsh/AP
Mike Allen